Subs rescue last-gasp win for Germany

Germany 1 Poland 0

Germany 1 Poland 0

Second-half substitutes David Odonkor and Oliver Neuville combined to give Germany a spectacular injury-time victory over 10-man Poland tonight.

It was one-way traffic in the final 15 minutes after Radoslaw Sobolewski was handed his second yellow card with 15 minutes on the clock.

The three-time World Cup winners hit the post twice through Miroslav Klose and Michael Ballack in the dying seconds before Neuville swept home Odonkor’s cross to send the sell-out crowd into a jubilant mood.

It was a close encounter from the first whistle, with Poland looking much improved from the disappointing 2-0 opening loss against Ecuador.

Ballack was making an eagerly-awaited return after the nagging calf injury had kept him out of the opening 4-2 victory over Costa Rica.

The future Chelsea striker took Tim Borowski´s place in central midfield, with Jurgen Klinsmann granting out-of-form defender Arne Friedrich another chance to prove himself at right-back in the only change in the German starting XI.

Under-fire Poland boss Pawel Janas kept influential midfielder Miroslav Szymkowiak on the bench. Striker Ireneusz Jelen took his place, with Bartosz Bosacki replacing Mariusz Jop in defence.

With just three minutes on the clock, referee Luis Medina Cantalejo handed out his first booking after Jacek Krzynowek had felled Bernd Schneider in midfield.

Poland created the first chance of the match in the ninth minute but Maciej Zurawski´s shot from 20 yards was easy for Jens Lehmann.

Play switched down the other end where Ballack created an opening for Miroslav Klose with a nice left-wing cross, but the Polish-born striker had his shot saved by Artur Boruc.

Germany almost broke the deadlock in the 21st minute following a neat cross from left-back Philipp Lahm.

The youngster hit unmarked Klose with his pinpoint flick – only for the Werder Bremen star to head wide from seven yards out.

Poland kept threatening, however, as Jelen had a promising cross blocked inside the penalty area before Zurawski failed to get through with a 25-yard free-kick from a central position.

In-form youngster Lahm, who had netted a fine long-distance strike against Costa Rica, confirmed his brilliant shape by delivering another clever flick to the danger area in the 36th minute.

Lukas Podolski controlled the ball well but could not get the ball past Boruc from a left position.

A misplaced clearance from the German backline set up Zurawski in the penalty area, but he dragged his shot wide.

After Bastian Schweinsteiger threatened with a long-distance blast, Podolski should have put his side in the lead just before the break – again after Lahm provided a superb flick from the left.

However, Podolski misfired from five yards out as an entertaining first half reached a scoreless conclusion.

Poland, who looked much improved from their disappointing opening loss against Ecuador, continued to frustrate their hosts when the contest resumed.

Germany lacked creativity to break out any significant openings, and their frustration told in the 58th minute when Chelsea new boy Ballack was booked for preventing further damage after Schneider had been deprived of the ball in the attacking third.

A Frings free-kick then somehow got through to Klose, whose powerful blast was parried by Boruc.

In the 64th Klinsmann brought on local hero David Odonkor for right-back Friedrich, with the Borussia Dortmund winger pleasing the sell-out crowd of 65.000 with two dangerous, yet unsuccessful runs on the left.

Poland were reduced to 10 men in the 75th when Sobolewski picked up his second yellow card after halting a Klose breakaway.

Germany, now in complete control, then warmed up for a spectacular finish.

Lahm forced Boruc into a brilliant save following a mazy dribble from the left before the Celtic goalkeeper got a hand to Neuville´s shot, after substitute Tim Borowski had set him up.

Germany then twice hit the bar twice in as many seconds – Klose heading a Lahm cross against the woodwork before Ballack again found the frame with his close-range follow-up.

But the substitutions eventually paid for Klinsmann in added time.

Odonkor burst down the right flank, with Neuville – who replaced Podolski in the 71st minute – sweeping his low cross home from close range to spark celebrations among the home crowd.

It continued Germany’s fine run against Poland (11 wins and four draws), at a venue where they have won 13 and drawn one of their 14 home internationals.

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